Not to be outdone by archrival SAP AG, PeopleSoft Inc. this week did its best to match, and possibly exceed the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software market leader with some ambitious plans for electronic commerce. At its annual customer conference attended by 15,000 people in San Francisco, PeopleSoft unveiled plans to launch a new Internet-based business service called PeopleSoft Business Network (PSBN) starting in the first quarter of 1999. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based software firm plans to sign up merchants, 401(k) providers, professional recruitment firms, and other businesses that it will automatically connect via the Web to users of its ERP systems. PeopleSoft customers will no longer have to click onto and logon to a multitude of vendors' Web sites to obtain their products and services, because these will be bundled together via PSBN. PeopleSoft thus takes on the pre-integration chores with each of the merchants in its network. "We need to deliver people-centric solutions that allow people to do their business easier and better," says Baer Tierkel, general manager of PSBN. In addition, PeopleSoft is offering a new set of analytic software to help customers leverage information contained in their ERP systems to make better business decisions. Called Enterprise Performance Management, the family of software applications includes modules for data analysis, data warehousing, reporting, and one called Balanced Scorecard that links business strategy to employee activities. Says Tierkel, "We need to take the ERP backbone, where the core information of enterprise is held, and get it into the hands of people who need it to make decisions about the business."